If you’re a fan of prosecco, Italy’s most popular export, it can be incredibly tempting to fill your wine rack with champagne’s cheaper cousin. Because let’s face it, who doesn’t love a glass or three of fizz on a random school night?
But how long should you leave a bottle of prosecco in your rack undrunk? Can unopened prosecco go bad?
Let’s find out…
Will prosecco go bad?
An unopened bottle of prosecco isn’t likely to go off because who is going to leave a delicious bottle of unopened prosecco in the wine rack for a long time? It’s unthinkable!
Unfortunately, the truth is, unopened prosecco can go bad, and we’ll take a look at the reasons why you should take this as permission to drink that bottle of fizz you’ve been saving ‘for a special occasion’, tonight.
First things first, prosecco is not champagne, it’s not designed to be laid down to age. Champagne is an expensive drink that can handle aging, prosecco is an affordable alternative that can’t. It’s a bright, young thing that needs to be enjoyed in its youth. Unlike fine wine, it doesn’t get better with age, so it doesn’t need to be kept ‘for best’.
And definitely don’t keep it in your fridge…
How long does unopened prosecco last?
How long is too long unopened?
The recommendation for drinking prosecco is to consume the drink no more than one to two years after it was bottled (you’ll find the Best Before date stamped on the neck of the bottle). This is because prosecco will begin to lose its flavour over time, as well as flatten and lose some of its fizz, turning it dull and lifeless – the total antithesis of a party starter!
While you can purchase ‘flat’ prosecco (also known as tranquilo), the most commonly drunk – and much loved prosecco, is the fully-sparkling wine. To experience prosecco at its best – when it’s refreshingly effervescent and the flavour is vibrant, fresh and highly aromatic, drink it as soon as you buy it, and as soon as you pop the cork.
Once you’ve opened a bottle of prosecco, you probably have 3-4 days tops before it spoils – which is when it loses its fizz, aroma and flavour.
Drinking expired prosecco
If you’ve seen the expiry date on the neck of your favourite bottle of fizz has passed, is it OK to drink?
The short answer is no.
The longer answer is: as mentioned before, prosecco is a young wine that doesn’t like to age. It has a much higher sugar to acid ratio than other wine, meaning that if you try to age it in a cool, dark cellar, it simply becomes stale, the bubbles disperse, the wine loses its sparkle, and that fresh, floral flavour falls flat.
You can tell if your prosecco has gone bad – if it’s turned yellow or brown, if it’s cloudy, or has a musty smell, or if it’s flat, or with very few bubbles, it’s gone off. So if your bottle has a ‘Best Before’ date, treat it like the truth.
Best ways to preserve unopened prosecco
The best way to preserve an unopened bottle of prosecco is very simple:
- Store your bottle in an upright position. This way you prevent the wine from coming in contact with the cork. But won’t the cork dry out? That isn’t the problem. The problem comes if you let the cork get soggy, because a wet cork allows air into the bottle. And once air reaches the golden elixir inside, it will begin to go stale. Keep it upright and drink it ASAP is our advice, or buy it in a can.
- Keep your bottle of fizz in a cool, dark room. You want to keep wine in a cool environment because heat is a known catalyst, and you don’t want your fizz undergoing any chemical reactions, altering its taste or mouthfeel. You want the room dark because light, like heat, can also cause a chemical reaction in the wine’s compounds causing the wine to go bad. Wine that’s been damaged due to light exposure is known as having been ‘light struck’. Meaning the wine has aged prematurely and its taste, smell, colour and general mouthfeel have been irrevocably altered, for the worse. Side note – if your prosecco is in a can, you don’t have to worry about the light affecting it, cans block out all UV light.
- Don’t keep your prosecco in the fridge. You might think ‘cool and dark’ equals storing it in a fridge but if you’ve ever left anything uncovered in the fridge – bread, meat, etc, you’ll know how dry it becomes. The same happens to the bottle’s cork – and when it dries, it lets the air in and spoils the prosecco. Again, this isn’t an issue that affects wine in a can.
Does prosecco in a can go bad?
So, does the answer to keeping prosecco for longer lie in canning it, rather than bottling it?
Sadly not. Wine in a can is designed for convenience rather than to assist the aging process – the development that fine wine undergoes in a bottle with a cork, can’t happen in an airtight can.
But the great thing about prosecco in a can is that it provides the perfect sustainable solution for producing easy drinking, young wines, which is precisely what prosecco is.
Prosecco is the perfect Friday night aperitif, it goes wonderfully with pretty much any meal, instantly injecting some sparkles into an otherwise ordinary day. So don’t leave that bottle hanging around in your rack for long!